If you are reading this article, then it’s likely you are at least contemplating attending your first SMART Recovery Meeting. Perhaps Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous wasn’t for you and you wish to attend a meeting that’s less secular and more scientific in its outlook.
If that’s the case, then choosing to attend a SMART Recovery meeting is perhaps the best decision you will make this year!
The thought of attending a mutual support group for the first time in your life is likely to instigate a mixture of emotions such as excitement, anticipation, anxiety and fear. That’s perfectly normal and not something to worry about too much. Once you have completed this guide, we hope the positive emotions that arise through anticipation outweigh the negative.
At Rehab 4 Addiction, all of our advisors are themselves in recovery, so we know exactly how you might be feeling right now as you contemplate attending a mutual support group for the first time.
But rest assure that experiencing these mixed emotions is well worth it in the end because SMART Recovery will arm you with many strategies that serve to strengthen your recovery. You will also meet many incredible people who serve as wonderful role models for all those who are new to the group.
The SMART Recovery 4-Point Programme
SMART Recovery meetings are based on a 4-Point Programme. This programme is underpinned on scientific principles. The 4-Point Programme helps you gain your independence from your addiction. This applies equally to both substance misuse and behavioural addiction. The 4-Point Programme consists of a variety of techniques and ideas that assist you in undergoing a life-transforming process.
You will shift from a position of self-destruction to a position where you feel satisfied and pro-active in how you manage your life.
Below, we list each of the 4 Points:
- Point 1 – Building and Maintaining Motivation
- Point 2 – Coping with Urges
- Point 3 – Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviours
- Point 4 – Living a Balanced Life
In practice, each point is seldom carried out in the exact same order for each individual attending a SMART Recovery meeting. You will always begin with Point 1, but you are unlikely to move from Point 1 to Point 4 in incremental steps.
Instead, you are likely to take a step back as obstacles and challenges take their toll on your recovery. This should not equate with failure. Recovery is a lifelong process and it takes time and great effort to secure a Balanced Life that Point 4 requires.
Helpful Information to prepare you for a SMART Recovery meeting
Now you are acquainted with the 4-Point Programme, we shall now discuss practical points that serve to prepare you for an actual meeting. This advice covers both online and in-person SMART Recovery meetings.
Below, we offer a number of facts that help to outline SMART Recovery’s approach:
- No emphasis is placed in a ‘higher power’: this contrasts with 12-step programmes that expressly ask participants to rely on a ‘higher power’. This ‘higher power’ often infers some form of deity, although not always. The concept of a ‘higher power’ conflicts with some people’s belief systems, and so avoiding this concept is helpful to those who do not want to subscribe to the idea of a ‘higher power’
- There is no obligation to talk during a SMART Recovery meeting: at the beginning of SMART Recovery meetings, members conduct what is known as the ‘check-in’ activity. This is where members introduce themselves and discuss the challenges they have met since their last group meeting. However, you are not required to participate in check-in. You may merely sit back and passively listen. You can participate in this task when you are ready to do so
- Emphasis is placed on the concept of ‘self-management’: given SMART stands for ‘self-management and recovery training’, it perhaps will not come as a surprise that much emphasis is placed upon ‘self-management’. SMART Recovery as an organisation strongly believes that each person has the power within themselves to enact positive changes and to rebuild an existence that’s healthy and sustainable. This helps to foster the belief that you yourself are in total charge of your recovery and your destiny
- SMART Recovery encourages you to discuss your recovery story, rather than your ‘war’ stories: this means the emphasis is put upon the good you are currently doing in your life. SMART Recovery meetings are not about dwelling on the negative experiences that led to and sustained your addiction
- Other members will not judge you, no matter what you are coping with right now: SMART Recovery assists with all manner of addictions, including addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships and eating, amongst others. Nobody in the group will label you an ‘addict’ or ‘alcoholic’. SMART Recovery feels such labels are unhelpful and often counter-productive in helping you achieve your recovery goals
- It’s OK if you relapse: SMART Recovery will not negatively penalise you if you relapse: this is often the case with 12-step meetings where it is not unknown for members to be banished from the group for relapsing. Instead, SMART Recovery views relapse as a natural part of the recovery process. You are encouraged to learn from your relapse and move on
- Meetings are owned by the attendees themselves: although a facilitator is present during each SMART Recovery meeting, the role of the facilitator is not to present or ‘teach’. Instead, the facilitator’s role is merely to encourage members to engage with one another in a constructive manner. Facilitators will contribute to this engagement and introduce SMART Recovery’s resources and tools where it is helpful to do so
- SMART Recovery makes available tools and resources to aid your recovery: tools and resources are what really set SMART Recovery apart from other mutual support organisations. Example tools utilised during group meetings include a cost/benefit analysis, a change plan worksheet and roleplaying/rehearsing. These tools are underpinned by both cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and rational emotive behavioural therapy (REBT). You will be encouraged to master these tools during meetings. In time, these tools will become subconscious to you, and they will assist you in your everyday life in coping and dealing with stressful and challenging situations that may otherwise pose a threat to your recovery. A full list of these tools can be found here.
- SMART Recovery maintains a lively online recovery community: this may be particularly useful if a local person-to-person meeting is not available close to your home town. The online community may also help if you are new to recovery and you wish to learn more about SMART Recovery before you commit to an in-person meeting. You may join the online forum by clicking here.
How effective is SMART Recovery for helping me succeed in my recovery?
SMART Recovery’s ability to help you is determined by your ability to help yourself. After all, SMART stands for ‘self-management’. This means you ultimately get out of SMART what you are willing to put in.
Whilst it is true you will need to work hard on your recovery no matter which support group you attend, this is particularly the case with SMART Recovery given its founding principles, tools and resources are founded upon scientific and not spiritual principles.
What’s the history of SMART Recovery?
SMART Recovery was founded in 1994. SMART Recovery was created because the founders could see the need for a mutual support organisation founded on scientific and psychological principles. This would serve as an alternative to existing meetings that emphasised spirituality.
Today, SMART Recovery is truly a global organisation. More than 3,000 meetings take place each week across 23 counties. Also, SMART Recovery maintains a thriving online community. There are more than 25 online meetings. This is complemented by an internet message board forums and chat rooms.
How may I locate a SMART Recovery Meeting near me?
To locate an in-person SMART Recovery meeting, simply click here and type in your postcode. You will then be able to view SMART Recovery meetings taking place in your local area. It’s likely your location will be served by many different SMART Recovery meetings. If you live in a remote region, you may struggle to locate a meeting that’s within a reasonable commuting distance. If this is the case, click here to join the online community instead.
When is a SMART Recovery Meeting not suitable?
If you are physically addicted to drugs such as opiates or alcohol, then you will require the services of a drug and alcohol detox clinic. When you suddenly stop using these drugs, you will begin to experience potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms require professional medical treatment.
To local a suitable drug and alcohol rehab clinic, contact Rehab 4 Addiction today on 0800 140 4690.